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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Green Old Party?

There's been a lot of press lately about a split in the Republican party. The religious right is all over the place, in disarray. Pro-choice, gay friendly Rudy Giuliani gets Pat Robertson's endorsement, the anti-abortion group National Right to Life backs Fred Thompson, ex-candidate and fullblown religious fanatic Sam Brownback puts his money on John McCain, and big names in the "values voter" movement are making noise about giving up on all of them and backing a third party candidate.

"The base" is looking a little shaky. But a new Harris poll released last week shows that GOPers are split in other ways that aren't getting as much attention. It turns out that Republican voters are pretty well split on the environment and global warming. According to the Harris press release, "Republicans are split more or less equally between those who believe we have too much (34%) and too little (36%) regulation. Most Democrats (68%) and half of Independents (51%) believe we have too little regulation." Further bad news for the GOP is that 25% hold the baby bear position, that government regulation is "just right." It's one thing to straddle an issue, it's another to hold three positions at once. Republican candidates are finding themselves forced to take positions on the issue. The International Herald Tribune reported last month:

While many conservative commentators and editorialists have mocked concerns about climate change, a different reality is emerging among Republican presidential contenders. It is a near-unanimous recognition among the leaders of the threat posed by global warming.

Within that camp, however, sharp divisions are developing. Senator John McCain of Arizona is calling for capping gas emissions linked to warming and higher fuel economy standards. Others, including Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney, are refraining from advocating such limits and are instead emphasizing a push toward clean coal and other alternative energy sources.

All advocate expanding nuclear power generation which, as I've reported before, is a lot less clean once you consider how the nuclear fuel is produced. When you include mining and refining, nukes are 95% inefficient -- meaning that only 5% of the carbon output generated by getting the ore into a reactor actually accomplishes anything. The rest is just waste. "Clean" does not describe nuclear power.

Bush's position on climate change is only slightly more popular than a fart in an elevator. It doesn't represent his party. 80% of all voters agreed with the statement, "As the world's leading industrial country, the United States needs to set the lead when it comes to controlling greenhouse gases and pollution," and Harris' press release tells us, "The Republican nominee next fall, whoever he is, will need to avoid being identified with President Bush's skepticism on global warming and his resistance to taking strong steps -- domestically or internationally -- to deal with it. If he does not, some Republicans may be reluctant to vote for him."

Meanwhile, the right wing media is busy working the "global warming is junk science" angle -- putting them at odds with just about all of their listeners and viewers. Among Republicans, 67% believe global warming has a human cause and 71% believe it's happening right now. Yet dopes like Glenn Beck continue to lie about the issue.

Media Matters:

BECK: We'll tell you the truth. We'll tell you the things that are politically incorrect. I'll go on and I'll tell you the [California wild fires] have very little to do with global warming, if anything. The globe was the hottest in 19 -- was it 1934, Stu [executive producer Steve "Stu" Burguiere], or '37? -- '34, 1934 was the hottest year. A stat, by the way, that was, I believe, intentionally distorted by the guy the left holds up as the scientist on global warming. America's temperature peaked in 1934. Since 1934, the hottest year on record was 1998. It has not gotten warmer since 1998. That's a fact.

Not surprisingly, that's not a fact, that's BS. The hottest year on record was 2005, not 1934. Maybe that's why even Republicans aren't believing this stuff anymore -- every time some climate change denier actually bothers to bring up a "fact," it turns out to be a lie. Of course, Glenn Beck's not the only example, he was just the first I found -- FOX News has a climate flat earther on the payroll (more on that here).

The right wing media's assertion that climate change is lefty propaganda isn't about offering a different perspective. Like creationists and evolution, GW skeptics don't actually offer any evidence of their own, they just attack the evidence the science is founded on. The idea isn't to offer a dissenting opinion, it's to create the appearance of controversy. "There is clearly a group of thought that says because we're not seeing debate now, it never happened in the scientific community," University of Arizona ecologist Travis Huxman says. "That is simply wrong. It did happen, and it's over. The debate now is over the idiosyncrasies, the internal workings."

In other words, the "debate" exists almost entirely within the media -- among scientists, the debate is over. And, as the Harris poll shows, it's pretty much over among voters. The coordinated PR push by right wing media and corporations has pretty much failed. Even the Republicans the campaign was aimed at aren't buying it. If they don't, few others will.

I've said before that I'm not much of a fan of mixing and matching polling data, but there's one question Harris didn't ask that I think is important. A Newsweek poll taken in August asked respondents, "In general, which political party do you trust more to handle the issue of global warming: the Republicans or the Democrats?"

Democrats scored 52%, while Republicans came away with 21%. It's clear, to me at least, that not only do Republicans need to "avoid being identified with President Bush's skepticism on global warming," as Harris suggests, but they also need to distance themselves from the flat earthers in their own media noise machine.

To their credit, most of the GOP candidates seem to be doing just that.


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RobC said...

I think you got side-tracked slightly on the uranium-ore issue. It really doesn't matter how much dirt has to to be removed. What matters is that the energy in the uranium is enormous, thousands of times the energy in, for example, coal.

Every objective study of life-cycle CO2 emissions done to date has shown that nuclear energy's greenhouse-gas emissions are tiny compared to those from fossil-fuels, and rank among those of renewable energy sources. said...

I don't know if numbers can change your mind, but the world's best climatologist, Reid Bryson, is in

Madison, at the university. He's not shy, and is often quoted on what he thinks of Al Gore's "crisis" - or

Hansen's lies, for that matter. “All this argument is the temperature going up or not, it’s absurd. Of course

it’s going up. It has gone up since the early 1800s, before the Industrial Revolution, because we’re coming

out of the Little Ice Age, not because we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air.” (From Prof Bryson,


May I suggest you google "GISTEMP" - Hansen's temperature site - and look at the graph of US

temperatures (Fig.D.lrg). Then think about why temperatures went DOWN from the 30's to 1980 (follow

the 5-year average red line), while CO2 - which you seem to think causes GW - increased in the postwar

boom. It's called NEGATIVE correlation. And consider why the 5-year average temps rose (about 1 C)

from the 1880's to the 1930's - before CO2 increased. MORE negative correlation. And then compare the

5-year average from 2004 (the latest) with 1932 - statistically the same (0.66, 0.63 above standard).

Have an explanation for that, in the face of a 35% increase in CO2???

Having found American temperature records - which include measurement sites specifically for climate

tracking - no longer support his claims, Dr. Hansen now claims we should trust Chinese temperature

records. If you trust such, I hope all your children get Chinese toys for the holidays. Gore claims this is

GLOBAL warming. America isn't part of the globe? Assuming you've quoted him correctly, Beck was quite

correct that "...America's temperature peaked in 1934. Since 1934, the hottest year on record was 1998."

Literally true, though 1934 and 1998 are statistically the same (0.01 C difference, one-tenth the margin

of error). No real change - in spite of the terrible CO2 increase? Hardly convincing of man-made warming.

If it comforts you, the 5-year average on 2004 (last available) is 0.03 C greater than the 5-year average

on 1932 - but still less than the margin of error, and different. Feel free to extrapolate

0.03 C over 72 years as far as you like. The next Glacial Age will be back before it matters.

More science? Read the FAQ's from the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Review (online at NCAR). Examine

FAQ 1.1, Fig 1, which shows the "radiative forcings" that affect climate. Notice, in the bottom right of the

figure, the amount of energy from the greenhouse effect - 324 watts/square meter. That's from ALL

the greenhouse gases. Then look at FAQ 2.1, Fig 2, showing the radiative forcing caused by ALL the

anthropogenic greenhouse gases - a whole 1.6 watts/sq m. In comparison with 324 w/sq m, the claim of a

"crisis" due to 1.6 watts from anthropogenic greenhouse gas is just silly.

Need a conversion between watts/sq m and temperature in Celsius? Well, 324 w/sq m warms the earth by

33 C, so 1.6 w/sq m warms us by 0.16 C, or 0.29 F.

Have a nice day.
Wisconsin grad (Ph. D., 1976)

Wisco said...

Sheepskins don't mean crap -- here's a list of biologists who are creationsists. It's an appeal to authority and that's not an argument.

A long, poorly formatted cut and paste canned propaganda piece isn't all that convincing either. CO2 increased long before the "post war boom," as you claim. The spike began in the 19th century -- i.e., the industrial revolution and the use of coal and boilers.

There's a helluva coincidence, huh? In fact, the only way to get your C&P argument to work is to engage in historical revisionism.